Dogs really are incredible creatures.
Every loving dog owner will understand that each dog has their own personality, their very own weird little behavioral quirks, and their very own way of showing that they love us. That’s why we love them so much, and why we want to keep them safe and healthy at all times.
But sometimes our dogs get sick, start acting strangely (or at least, more strangely than usual!), or simply begin to develop aches and pains as they grow older. As a dog owner myself, I know first hand how worrying these things can be.
If there’s something seriously wrong with your dog, the best thing to do is contact your veterinarian immediately. For less urgent issues, however, it’s always a bit of a relief to learn about new potential forms of treatment.
So what about hemp oil for dogs? Hemp-derived CBD oil has been getting a lot of attention lately as a promising home remedy for various health ailments in both humans and animals.
But can hemp oil really be beneficial for your dog’s health? I suppose first it’s important to find out exactly, what is hemp oil?
What is Hemp Oil?
When talking about hemp CBD oil, it’s important that we get our terms correct as there can be a great deal of confusion with this.
Generally, in the legal US-based CBD industry, hemp oil and CBD oil are actually different terms for the same thing. Both terms refer to an oil that is made from the flowers and leaves of the hemp plant, which is a variety of the cannabis plant.
This oil is rich in compounds called ‘phytocannabinoids’ which can produce various therapeutic effects when consumed. It is important to note that hemp-based CBD oil should only ever contain minuscule amounts, if any at all, of the compound THC, which is the psychoactive component of cannabis.
So if you’re worried about getting your dog ‘high,’ that is not going to happen with hemp oil!
Hemp CBD oil should not be confused with ‘hemp seed oil’ which is extracted from the seeds of the hemp plant and contains no phytocannabinoids whatsoever. Although some people do refer to hemp seed oil as hemp oil, in this article I am talking about the phytocannabinoid-rich oil discussed above.
CBD hemp oil is widely thought to have all sorts of health benefits for us humans and our precious canine friends and can be consumed in a number of ways.
For humans, CBD hemp oil is normally consumed by placing a drop of the oil under the tongue, or in a tablet or edible form. The oil can also be applied topically to the skin, or inhaled by smoking or ‘vaping’ it.
For our furry little buddies, expect to find hemp oil available in the form of edible capsules, hemp-infused dog treats of all shapes and sizes, and in tincture form.
You may also notice hemp dog food if you’re browsing for dog-related CBD. Generally, this food will be made with hemp seed oil and will not promote the same kinds of health benefits as hemp oil for dogs.
But what exactly are all these hemp oil benefits for dogs?
Hemp Oil Benefits for Dogs
There is plenty of anecdotal evidence out there suggesting that CBD hemp oil can provide all sorts of health benefits for dogs. Many dog owners and pet parents report using hemp products to treat ailments like seizures, anxiety, epilepsy, arthritis, and various other conditions.
But anecdotal evidence by itself isn’t enough to convince me! So here’s a look at all the main conditions hemp oil is being used to treat, and what the experts think about it.
According to Dr. Jamie Richardson, Medical Chief of Staff at New York-based Small Door Veterinary, the research-based evidence for hemp oil’s general effectiveness in pets is currently limited.
However, she does confirm that “one condition that CBD has been proven to help is osteoarthritis in dogs.”
This is evident from a study done by Cornell University which showed that nearly all dogs with osteoarthritis displayed significant improvements when taking CBD-rich hemp oil twice a day compared to the dogs that received a placebo treatment.
So if your dog is suffering from arthritis, there’s a good chance hemp oil might be able to help!
A recent pilot study by Colorado State University has found that hemp oil can be very effective for treating dogs with epilepsy.
Of the 16 dogs in the study, it was found that 89% of the dogs in the clinical trial who received CBD had a reduction in their frequency of seizures. The dogs enrolled in this study were randomly assigned to a treatment or placebo group, and the study was double-blinded, so the results certainly look promising.
Although further research will be needed to prove its effectiveness, the neurologist behind the study, Dr. Stephanie McGrath, stated that “it does seem like there is a positive effect from the use of CBD for dogs with epilepsy.”
Dr. Ochoa added that hemp products could be an effective alternative for dogs who do not respond to traditional epilepsy medications, or who cannot take conventional medicines due to the side effects or other diseases.
Although the research on dogs is limited here, according to Sara Ochoa DVM, Texas-based Small Animal and Exotic Veterinarian and Veterinary Consultant for doglab.com, hemp oil has been shown to decrease stress and help with anxiety in dogs.
She says that many people will use dog CBD around thunderstorms or fireworks and that it will usually help.
Daniel Caughill, co-founder of popular dog information website The Dog Tale, also adds that pet owners will often give their dog a CBD product before bedtime to calm them down, or shortly before leaving their dog at home. He suggests that these products are “especially helpful for dogs prone to separation anxiety.”
There is no conclusive scientific evidence that hemp oil can cure cancer in humans or in animals, but Dr. Ochoa insists that “CBD may help decrease the size of your pet’s tumor.”
She also says hemp oil can help to reduce nausea and vomiting and increase your dog’s appetite if he is undergoing chemotherapy. So it is probably worth considering hemp oil at least as a therapeutic, stress-relieving treatment if your dog is suffering from cancer.
Hemp oil can also be used generally to reduce nausea and vomiting and to increase your dog’s appetite, even if your dog is cancer-free.
The solid evidence is also lacking here, but often that can be due to an absence of research. Dr. Ochoa says she sees hemp oil as an effective way to help repair your dogs’ “healthy skin barrier” if they have damaged skin.
She adds that this is essential for preventing various allergies and skin conditions from developing.
Nobody likes an aggressive dog. According to Peter Laskay, the man behind popular pet blog Petworshiper, hemp CBD oil has been shown as an effective method of reducing aggression in dogs, much as it does with anxiety.
Now that’s a relief, and not just for the dogs!
General Pain Relief
Peter also says hemp oil can act as an anti-inflammatory, and is effective for treating inflammation-related pain in dogs, as well as other forms of pain as well.
So it seems that although research is limited, hemp oil may provide numerous health benefits for our hairy little best friends.
But before we start reaching for the hemp tinctures and CBD treats, it’s very important to ask; is hemp CBD oil for dogs actually safe?
Is Hemp Oil Safe for Dogs?
Although a recent study by the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine has suggested that CBD-rich hemp oil seems to be safe for adult dogs, more research is needed before we can be certain.
Dr. Richardson explains that the FDA has not yet officially approved CBD oil for therapeutic use and that due to lack of research, any list of side effects “may not be comprehensive.” She did also add that side effects observed in pets so far have been minimal.
That said, having talked to multiple vets and dog experts, it seems possible that your dog may experience some of the side effects listed below from hemp CBD oil:
- Soft stool
- Some changes in appetite
- Dry mouth
- Some gastrointestinal issues (Sara Ochoa DVM suggested that if these issues do arise, they will usually go away after a few doses)
- Increase in the liver enzyme ALP (Sadie Cornelius, a writer for widely trusted pet resource Canine Journal explained that although more extensive research is needed to determine the long-term effects of CBD on dog’s livers, researchers have found no immediate threat of liver toxicity)
Although these side effects are possible when using CBD oil for dogs, Dr. Sara Ochoa DVM insists that she has usually witnessed “little to no side effects over a long period of time.”
Dr. Richardson warns that certain underlying disease processes or medications can affect the body’s ability to metabolize CBD products. Additionally, she says that CBD can decrease or increase the absorption of certain drugs, causing a potentially dangerous interaction.
She therefore strongly recommends that you never give your dog CBD products without checking with your veterinarian first. Sounds like pretty sensible advice to me!
If your vet does give you the OK and you decide to treat your dog with hemp oil, it’s essential for your dog’s wellbeing that you get your dosage right! As there are no universal guidelines available for this, and because each hemp oil product and each dog is different, this can sometimes be a little tricky.
Daniel Caughill of The Dog Tale suggests your best bet here is to closely follow the instructions on your chosen product’s packaging and make sure to read about special dosages for smaller breeds.
He recommends that when in doubt, you should “halve the recommended dosage and increase it incrementally if your dog shows no ill effects.”
I would also recommend talking with your veterinarian if you have any doubts whatsoever about the correct dosage to administer.
Once you have worked out your dosage, it seems that hemp for dogs is generally a safe treatment with minimal side effects. But Dr. Richardson does warn that due to a lack of regulation in the market, commercially available CBD products “contain varying levels of cannabinoids, terpenes, and even contaminants that could possibly endanger a patient.”
So how do you work out which non-psychoactive cannabis oils are the good ones, and which ones to avoid?
How to Find the Best Hemp Oil for Your Pup
As hemp oil ingredients seem to differ so greatly across different brands and hemp products, it’s crucial that you pinpoint the high-quality options amidst the potentially harmful ones.
To do this, whatever form of hemp CBD oil products you are searching for, Sadie from Canine Journal recommends seeking out products that are certified organic and are processed using “carbon dioxide and cold press extraction.” This should ensure that the products are free from toxins.
She also suggests only buying from companies that are independently tested, and that provide a certificate of analysis. That way you can be sure that you’re actually getting what it says on the label.
Sadie adds that you should avoid products processed using propane, hexane, or butane and that you should only ever buy products with less than 0.3% THC, as THC-rich oil can react badly with dogs. Some CBD oil products, particularly full-spectrum hemp oil, may contain higher amounts of THC.
To really know exactly what your hemp oil products contain, Dr. Richardson suggests only buying from brands that provide thorough information about dosages and ingredients. This will allow you to check for harmful filler ingredients like pesticides, solvents, artificial coloring, MSG, or sweeteners like xylitol, which is harmful to dogs.
If you do fancy trying out some toxin-free, all-natural hemp oil-infused dog treats on your dog any time soon, you might like to check out the new Public Good’s range of organic CBD dog treats. Or if you prefer, Public Goods also has quite a tasty selection of CBD-free dog treats as well!
CBD for Dogs: No More “Ruff” Nights!
It seems that hemp oil for dogs is a very promising potential treatment for a variety of common canine health issues. However, if you are thinking about using hemp oil on your dog, you should always consult with your veterinarian first.
In the meantime, there are some very effective vitamins and supplements you can use to improve your dog’s well-being. And you can always help your dog relax by wrapping them up in their favorite blanket, handing them their favorite chew toy, and giving them a good cuddle when the thunderstorms arrive.
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